Brief Case Example

"Guy" is a Euro-Asian, lanky man who was assigned to a ten-man therapy group that met twice weekly for a total of three hours. Guy was always the first to arrive for sessions and occupy a chair placed in one of the corners. We were both easily visible to each other. After about a month in group and on occasions outside the hour, Guy used to engage me in chats about sports and movies, inform me of movies to be shown on television on certain evenings, and make it a point to see me on a subsequent day to ask if I saw this or that movie.

During his first month in group, I noticed Guy's propensity to be a silent participant. Consequently, I started to progressively contact him more in each session. So as not to "blow him away," I used to ask him if he concurred with my hunches about the affect reflected in the men's presentations. His replies were terse summaries of the presented and devoid of feelings. I also observed that he writhed in the chair when offenses were described. On one occasion several months down the road, I asked Ben, a group member with an uncanny ability to intuit, to speculate on Guy's seeming discomfort when offenses are described. Ben replied: "He is dying to describe his offenses, but is afraid." Guy nodded his head in agreement and added, "I'm not ready."

Aware of Guy's sexual crimes and appreciating his reluctance to describe his sexual sadism as was reflected in his governing offense, I asked him on this occasion: "Would you agree to go to a movie with me?" He looked at me with surprise written all over his face and said: "You're messing with me, Doc." I said, "No, I shit you not." He then asked: "You mean outa here?" I replied, "No, right in this room, right at this moment."

With that, I got off my chair, asked the group to create three rows of three chairs in each behind the two chairs that I placed next to each other. I sat in one of the chairs and asked Guy to join me. Ben was asked to turn off the light (the large window in the room did not allow for darkness). I invited Guy to project on the wall we faced the movie he created in the mid 1980s and for which he was civilly committed for treatment. He hesitated. I, then, said to him provocatively, "Nothing sexual in this world would be shocking, arousing, perhaps." This

Surfing an Unexpected Group's Tide

was said in order to lessen Guy's anticipatory shame and fear of being judged by the others.

As Guy proceeded to describe subduing the then eight-year-old boy and anally penetrating him; Ben, seated behind Guy, cried out, "This is how I was raped at summer camp," and proceeded to sob uncontrollably. Thick silence befell the room. I turned my chair around to face Ben and asked Guy to do the same. Placing my hands on their shoulders, I encouraged them to look at each other and give voice to all that emerged between two perpetrators of whom one chose to remind himself of his own victimization.

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